garden nj shade garden

How to Make the Best Compost Recipe

Looking for ways to improve your garden soil and feed plants naturally? Follow these tips to learn how to make the best compost recipe.

In this post, I’m going to show you how to make compost.

It’s pretty simple to do and is one of the best ways to improve your soil as well as keep plants healthy.

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The Most Asked Question I Get is…What do you feed your plants with?

And while I do use some fertilizers for my roses, annuals, and houseplants, compost is a source of nutrition for all of my plants, perennials, shrubs, and trees.

In spring and fall, I add a layer of compost to my existing gardens and container plantings.

People are generally surprised that I don’t fertilize my perennials, shrubs, and trees with more, but the truth is, they don’t need fertilizers if they are fed with good soil.

And one of the best ways to have good soil is to make a compost recipe or buy it from the garden nursery.

cut flower garden in nj in late summer

What is Compost Used For?

There are several benefits to using compost in gardens.

  • Compost helps build good soil structure.
  • It feeds earthworms and other microbials in the soil.
  • Compost helps maintain a neutral soil Ph level.
  • It helps retain moisture and air.
  • Adds nutrients to keep plants healthy and better protected from pests and disease.
garden nj shade garden

What is Usually in Compost?

Compost is made of organic decomposed matter that includes:

  • leaves, twigs, grass, and other garden debris
  • kitchen waste from plant-based scraps
  • cardboard and other paper products like newspaper or plain paper plates. Be sure there’s no plastic coverings on anything.

Compost is made when organic material like food scraps decompose over time.

The decomposition becomes what we gardeners call “gold” because it is high in nutrients that enrich overall soil quality and promotes happy, healthy plants.

NOTE: Leaf mold is a little different from compost. To learn more about leaf mold and how to make it, CLICK HERE.

Fall Clean-Up

Does Compost Turn Into Soil?

Since compost is made of organic material and soil includes other elements such as minerals and rocks, when mixed together, the result is amazing for plants.

Thus, compost is considered to be a soil amendment that mixes with existing garden soil to improve its overall structure and health.

The Best Compost Recipe

What Should NOT Go in a Compost Recipe?

Before tossing things into the compost pile, be sure to exclude the following:

  • Fish
  • Meat scraps
  • Dairy, fats and oils
  • Anything related to the black walnut tree – it’s toxic and prevents certain plants from growing.
  • Plants that suffered from pest or disease problems.
  • Weeds with seeds. I generally don’t compost them at all to avoid this problem.
  • Coal and Charcoal Ashes. Some ash from wood burning fireplace is OK but use very little.
  • Cat/Dog animal waste
  • Plants or wood waste that was treated with pesticides
Dahlia 'Penhill Watermelon'

Supplies Needed to Make the Best Compost Recipe

It’s super simple to start composting.

I used to have piles but don’t have a lot of space in my yard.

When I was gifted one like THIS several years ago, I just moved over to this as my compost bin.

It’s a little smaller than what I had, but the animals can’t get to it and it breaks things down a little quicker.

Here’s what you need:

  • Compost bin (make or buy)
  • Kitchen scraps (see above)
  • Yard or garden waste (see above)
  • Garden fork
Tour my gardening zone 6a cottage gardens

How to Make the Best Compost Recipe

When making compost, it’s very similar to baking a cake, except you are doing it in pile outside.

Whether you compost kitchen scraps or garden wastes, there are a few basic steps to follow.

What you include and how you do it are very important.

Bearded Iris and Allium in the Cottage Garden

Make sure you don’t incorporate anything from the what NOT to use list above.

  • Find a sunny spot in the yard to place the compost bin.
  • Choose a compost bin. You can make or buy one.
how to make the best compost recipe
  • Place kitchen and yard waste into the bin.
  • Add or spread existing soil or compost over the compost pile.
  • Water the pile. To break down easier, materials should be damp to the touch.
  • Allow the pile to bake.
How to make the best compost recipe
  • Mix the compost pile every few days or week with a garden fork to speed up the decomposition process. With my compost bin, I just need to flip it.
  • As the pile decomposes, it should appear dark and crumbly with bits of organic matter.

Gardening Tip – to speed up the process even more, chop or shred organic materials before adding them to the compost pile.

How to Make the Best Compost Recipe

Don’t Want to Make a Compost Bin? Shop Here

No matter what size home or property you have, there are compost bins readily available to fit your needs.

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Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling

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  1. Stacy, I’ve been composting for years and it’s such a great way to reduce up to 30% of your waste. And the condition of the compost soil is almost magical. Hard to believe all those scraps and dry material can create something so enriched. Thanks for sharing. Composting is truly one of the easiest gardening things to do.

    1. It is so easy and SO good for the gardens! Not to mention, you can get rid of scraps and stuff with much less waste! At our next house, I’m hoping to maintain a much larger pile than I have now.

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